YarnCraft is our 30-minute downloadable radio-show on all things yarn-related. To find out more about the show or to listen to episodes, visit the YarnCraft blog.
In episode 19, Working with Looms and More, we discussed loom-knitting and spool-knitting, and the benefits of these crafts. They’re great for people with joint pain, for whom knitting and crocheting might be too painful. They’re great for beginners who may find knitting and crocheting tough to get started on. They’re especially great for children, as an introduction to all the possibilities of yarn. Here are 5 kid-friendly patterns for various looms and spool-knitters:
For more on knitting without needles and more, listen to the podcast [MP3].
Who is Lola, you ask? She’s a quick-witted, independent, grandmother with equally quick knitting needles. Twice a month, we feature Lola comic strips in the Lion Brand E-Newsletter, but she also stars in her own daily comic featured in 125 papers around the U.S.
Lola has a new book out–called Gimme a Break!–so we checked in with cartoonist Todd Clark to find out a little bit more about our favorite knitting grandma.
Lion Brand: How did you get started drawing/writing comics?
Todd Clark: I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember. My Mom was an awesome artist. My plan was to be the next Salvador Dali, but as soon as I got to college I realized my art skills were sorely lacking compared to others. I’d always been able to make people laugh, and could still draw these glorified stick figures, so I started telling everyone I was going to be a cartoonist. At some point I had to back up my claims. I had some great encouragement early on from some pretty big editors and got a few breaks writing jokes for some pretty well-known comic strips.
LB: Who or what inspired the character of Lola?
TC: Lola is based on my former partner Steve’s great-aunt Lola. She’s real. A WWII veteran and fantastic lady. The actual Lola is much sweeter than her comic strip alter ego. Steve and I did a book signing years ago in her hometown of Augusta, GA, and Lola came with us and sat at the table. It was very cool. She had contacted her entire church and they all came by. She wouldn’t let them get away with buying just one book. They all had to buy several.
LB: If Lola were to knit you something, what would you like it to be?
TC: I’d probably have her knit something for my little 4 year old girl, Rhiannon. If I was forced to choose for me, I’d have to say something blue and orange, maybe a scarf, the colors of my beloved Boise State University Broncos.
Want Lola in your inbox? Subscribe to the Lion Brand Weekly E-Newsletter, also featuring new patterns, book features, new stitches every week, and more.
Professor Ruth Grahn, of Connecticut College, explains the functions of different parts of the brain by using the example of how the act of knitting requires the motor cortex of the brain where finger and hand control is determined. She also uses knitting to explain brain plasticity, which means that the brain is capable of changing as a person gains experience and improves their skills.
I once met a woman who had suffered a stroke and was told that she may never be able to knit again–that with a great deal of physical therapy, she would be lucky to walk. She had been a very experienced knitter who enjoyed doing intricate patterns. She described how she was determined to painstakingly return to her knitting, taking up simpler, then more complex patterns and eventually experienced a full recovery. Her amazed doctor told her that he believed she was able to use knitting to “rewire her brain” and take back not only her knitting, but all her motor skills.
Today I knitted the final Tulip-Bud Border repeat and sewed it in place. What a sense of accomplishment. The project took 2 months and had some challenging parts that improved my knitting and pattern reading skills. I’m glad to move on to a new project finally, but I had a great time knitting it.
The Tulip-Bud Border itself is really a great finishing touch. The minute I sewed it on, the afghan just looked amazing. The pattern is an 18 row repeat done on 2 needles so it went very quickly, and after a dozen or so repeats I was able to work without following the pattern, which just made it go faster. There are 2 ways to handle the border. You can knit the full length and then sew it onto the afghan, or sew it into place as you go. I liked the idea of knitting a few repeats and then sewing it in place as I went, since I wasn’t sure how many repeats were needed (and it felt like I was getting more done), but in the end, I chose to knit the full length and sew it on later, simply because this made the project portable. It’s so small that it’s a perfect project to work on during my daily commute. (In case you decide to do the border this way, the total number of repeats I needed was 77.)
I was also inspired, while doing the border, to use this same pattern as a border for the hem of a skirt. The only thing to change would be to use smaller needles and a thinner, finer yarn. I can’t wait!
I truly hope you all enjoyed this project, and that you all enjoy the finished product whether it is a gift or for your own home. I decided that mine would make the perfect engagement gift for my dear friends who are moving to a new home. There’s nothing like a handmade gift and this afghan and the intertwining trees just seemed perfect for a couple of great people who decided to share their lives (and their space) with each other. Maybe I’ll even wear a dress with a tulip bud hem to the wedding.
All the best, and Happy Knitting!
Vanna’s Choice Baby is our collection of newest colors in the same weight and make-up as original Vanna’s Choice. When we introduced Vanna’s Choice, we heard from so many fans–including Vanna herself–who were using it for baby and children’s projects. People loved the weight, softness, and easy-care of the yarn, but were looking for additional kid-friendly colors. Our design team got to work creating a palette of fresh colors that complements trends in contemporary children’s fashion and furnishings. Brighter shades (like Cheery Cherry, Berrylicious, and Aqua) with unexpected accents (Chocolate Cake, anyone?) are the look of the day for even the littlest kids.
The colors are great for kid projects–as the name implies–but they were developed to coordinate with the ‘regular’ Vanna’s Choice colors, too. Since Vanna’s Choice Baby is the same weight and fiber content as Vanna’s Choice, you can substitute colors from either in patterns, or even combine them into one project. The Hipster Sweater is a great example of the striking results you can get with all the colors now available. Between Vanna’s Choice Baby and all of the Vanna’s Choice solids, prints, and mists there are 63 interchangeable colors!
Keep an eye on the website for new patterns in Vanna’s Choice Baby. We know people love the yarn for quick-to-finish afghans and toys, so there are some adorable projects in the works. The fall Lion Design catalog and the upcoming Giggles & Grins book, being published by Leisure Arts, will also feature great ideas and patterns for this fun yarn.